Convicted rapist Ched Evans should be allowed to return to professional football or it will undermine the UK justice system, claims a Manchester legal expert.
Sheffield United have faced public outcry after Evans was allowed to take up training with the squad upon leaving prison.
The disgraced star was convicted of raping a 19-year-old girl in a North Wales hotel room in 2012.
Ruth Peters, a solicitor at Olliers based in Manchester, believes that from a legal standpoint, it undermines the judicial system’s own prosecution if further punishment is enacted after Evans’ release.
She told MM: “The law has determined the sentence Mr Evans should receive and this has now been served.
“We cannot continue to punish him for his crime as this would diminish the authority of the judicial system in deciding on his punishment.
“Ched Evans should be allowed to now continue with his life, involving his return to professional football should he so wish.”
Ms Peters also claimed that not allowing an offender to return to their line of work is more likely to hinder their chances of rehabilitation.
“Should Mr Evans not be allowed to return to his career, this would be contrary to the idea of rehabilitation that licence conditions supervised by the Probation Service should manage,” she said.
“This would have a detrimental effect on his continuing rehabilitation, which will ultimately benefit society.”
Jessica Ennis-Hill has asked for her name to be removed from the Sheffield United stadium if the club decide to offer the 25-year-old a new contract.
The jury found Evans, who admitted having sex with the woman but claimed it was complicit, guilty of rape as the victim had been too drunk to consent.
More than 160,000 people signed a petition calling on Sheffield not to resign Evans.
Nick Clegg claimed that as a footballer player Evans is a role model and therefore someone ‘kids should look up to’.
The Deputy PM said he believes Evans should not be allowed to play professional football again.
However Ms Peters thinks the fact that Evans’ former job was so well paid has been a key factor in the backlash.
“Had Mr Evans career been one that was not so highly paid, it is unlikely there would be so much attention,” she said. “However the remuneration of his career should be irrelevant.”
Ms Peters also pointed out that the strict rules of the probation system will mean Evans would quickly be back behind bars should he breach the conditions.
“There has been much media attention as to whether he should now be allowed to return to his career in professional football,” she said.
“While this is clearly a very delicate issue, it should be noted he will have strict licence conditions until the operational period of his licence is completed.
“Should he breach any of the terms he risks being recalled by the Probation Service and having to return custody to complete the rest of his sentence.”
Steph Jones, 20, currently studying at Manchester University, said: “No, I think it’s ridiculous, I can’t believe it’s even being contemplated.
“It’s crazy to think that he could be getting paid a fortune to play football again whilst other people who have committed nowhere near a crime that bad are struggling.”
Joe Mathen, a 28-year-old warehouse worker from Manchester, said: “The lad has served his time and already received his punishment. You can’t then punish him again by not letting him get back into football and not earn a living.
“There’s no denying what he did was wrong but I’m someone who believes the lad should have a second chance.”
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